Not long ago on this very site, David reviewed his recent trip to North Dakota (his reason for the trip escapes me at the moment, but I do recall the words "tweaking" and "lab" somewhere in there). We at CSP ferociously believe that the critic's eye can be cast into any dark corner, and that rational, intellectual discourse and cross-phenomenon comparisons will cast light on any social, cultural or aesthetic event or behavior. We believe in the power of the critic to stir the spirit, challenge the mind, heal the lame, resurrect the dead, and successfully get the cereal box open without tearing the top so that the resealable flaps will work. It is in this spirit that I offer up the following study.
Each and every one of us has, at some point, come to a finishing point in their defecation when they realize that the essential butt-cleaning component, toilet paper, is missing or, at the very least, present in an amount woefully inadequate to the toxic-dump-proportioned cleanup required. Generally at these times one will attempt all manner of interesting maneuvers to ascertain the presence of additional toilet paper--hidden, perhaps, under the sink or in a bathroom closet. After stretching or waddling about in all sorts of curious fashions to check the obvious places, the inevitable realization hits that you are out of toilet paper. A substitute must be found. We here at CSP understand only too well this frantic and less than envious position, and while we may, in the immediate sense, laugh at you for being such a moron as to forget to buy the aforementioned tissue, we also, in a long-range sense, understand your predicament as it is, at times, our own. While certainly not exhaustive, we offer this list of various toilet paper alternatives, and some assessment of the efficacy of each.
Paper Towels and Napkins
While I have been involved in discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of each of these items, those discussions were extremely dull, and I wonít bore you with them here, but rather will tackle both of these "standard alternatives" (if youíll forgive the oxymoron) as one item. Certainly, this is a route many people go. Paper towels can even be quite pleasant though a bit disconcerting as its generally bumpy surface skirts across your flesh lifting feces from your anal tissue. So while these solutions are commonplace, it should be noted that you run a severe risk of clogging the toilet and causing the very same waste material you had intended to discard of flowing up over the rim and landing in your (or your lover's, or your auntie's, or your bishop's) bathroom. Use, but use sparingly. Note that we assume here paper napkins.
A less common though also paper-based solution, coffee filters are the Yugos of the asswipe alternatives. It is neither pretty nor pleasant, but you will get there. Clogging is an issue here as well so be sparing. The slickness of the coffee filter will require a change in your normal procedure: start at the outside of the contaminated area and move inwards, towards its source. While it is possible that a used coffee filter could be used in an absolute emergency, this is a special case which requires more explanation than can be adequately explained here.
Lefse and Tortillas
It is important, when casting one's mind about the house for potential solutions to one's personal waste management problem, to remember that just because traditional toilet paper is made out of paper, your emergency buttcloth does not have to be. The potato-based lefse will leave you clean as a whistle and enjoying its smooth texture. The flour tortilla will provide similar cleanliness and pleasure. The larger burrito-sized tortillas are fun but not necessary--though these can be doubled and quartered for reuse. Corn tortillas tear easily and are not recommended.
All of the above alternatives suffer from the same fundamental failing: they each require (or at least strongly indicate) the flushing of the newly crap-smeared material at hand. For those willing to try other approaches, consider grabbing one of your roommate's towels and doing the job up right. While of course dependent on the quality of the towel, this is an ideal solution. Towels generally have good feces-grabbing power with minimum of anal tissue irritation. Note that we are not advocating playing disgusting pranks upon one's co-habitants--you should dispose of the shit-stained towel in your roommateís dirty clothes pile.
It's happened to all of us: we're sitting there running through a list of possible buttwipe alternatives, trying to remember exactly what items you've got in the house, which is closest at hand, which will provide you with at least a semi-satisfactory wiping experience, etc., etc., when invariably the cat (for those who own cats, or a small dog, perhaps) will walk up and pehaps rub against the bared shin, seeking a little love or hoping for a snack, and we, at this point, think to ourselves, "Theyíve got fur, they're soft, and" (if it is indeed a cat) "it will no doubt clean the vile poo from itself and no one will be the wiser." Cats can at times (and only at times) provide top-notch wiping -- short-haired cats are best, and smaller cats are good so you can hold them at each end more easily. Note, however, that this process should not be attempted by novice ass-wipers. Mishandling or frightening the cat (extremely easy for most cats; let your knowledge of the animal's personality come into play) can lead to serious genital mutilation. Many have reported that once they learned proper technique, they could not imagine another alternative, and some have reported that they do not enjoy returning to toilet paper once they have finally remembered to buy some, but these people are rare.
(depending on the cat)
Your Left Hand
If, after much deliberation and soul-searching, it comes to this, just remember that you are not alone--there is a reason that much of the world's population only eats with their right hand. Just remember that you can never ever EVER tell anyone you did it. They will never let you touch them, or probably even come near them, again.